A day in Osuna.

After the madness that was Feria last week, this weekend I decided to chill out a little bit with a nice relaxing day trip to Osuna, a small town in Sevilla province. A few Spaniards had recommended it to me and I’d been wanting to visit it for a while, so on Saturday I decided to make the most of the slightly cooler weather (25/26 degrees instead of more than 30) and make a day of it with my friend who lives here in Alcalá.

The day got off to an early start  because we’d arranged to meet at the main bus stop in town at 7am so we could catch the bus into the city (unfortunately there are no direct buses between Alcalá and Osuna). This meant I’d set my alarm for 5:30am because it takes me forever to get ready to go anywhere as I’m so slow (and this is made about a million times worse when it’s early in the morning and I’m not properly woken up yet). But anyway, I made it to the bus stop just before 7 and, as there was a bus there waiting, I thought I’d hop on and wait for my friend on the bus itself. Mistake. As soon as I’d sat down the bus started moving…without my friend on it. Turns out that because of the Feria (which has only just finished – say what you want about them, but the people here do know how to party) the buses had been running behind, and the bus I ended up catching was the 6:40 bus that left 15-20 minutes late. As it turned out, what could have been an absolute disaster ended up working out alright because my friend caught the 7:10 bus we’d initially planned on getting and arrived at San Bernardo in Sevilla about 10 minutes after I did.

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All the fun of the Feria // part two

If you read my last post, you’ll already know about all the preparations that went into finding me an outfit to go to the Feria de Abril in Sevilla this year. This post is more about what happened on the day itself and what I thought of the whole experience.

Now, as I said before, the Feria as it is today is definitely not the modest agricultural fair it started out life as back in 1847. These days the Feria takes place in a part of the city that is, essentially, completely empty for the year until the week of Feria comes around. And when the Feria does come around, it doesn’t do so by halves – no, no, this is a MASSIVE event (in both the literal and metaphorical sense). Just to give you a sense of scale, the real de la feria covers an area of 1km2 or even more, the portada (or entrance gate to the Feria) is around 50m tall, and there are over 1000 casetas (think marquee tents, each with its own bar, seating area, and stage for dancing on). Yup. It’s big. And it’s definitely a BIG event in the social calendar here in Sevilla too. And if you know the right kind of people, you can get a coveted invite to one of the private casetas. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy yourself without an invite, because there are a lot of public casetas too and a huge amusement park (for lack of a better term) with food and drink stalls that is, appropriately called Calle de Infierno, or Hell Street (ha!).

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All the fun of the Feria // part one

Picture the scene… me: embarrassed and awkward as always, frantically jumping trouser-less around my hall, trying my best to pull a flamenco skirt borrowed from a teacher over my thighs and hips (think I’ve inherited my Granny’s jeans genes there – the love for cake is strong in my family!). The teacher in question is there too trying to help, and we’re both laughing hysterically at the ridiculousness of it all. A few minutes and a lot of stretching later, and I’m zipped in to the skirt. Barely able to walk, sit down, or breathe, but finally in the skirt. The skirt I’ll be wearing to the Feria de Abril in Sevilla the following day.

The Feria as it is known today has come a long way from its humble origins as an agricultural fair. First held in 1847 from the 18th – 20th of April at Prado de San Sebastián, the Feria nowadays is a week-long party held in Los Remedios, a neighbourhood on the other side of the Guadalquivir from the city centre. And, as a student of Spanish culture, I thought it would be silly not to take the opportunity to experience it this year while I’m here!

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What’s with the hats?! // Semana Santa in Sevilla

I couldn’t really spend my year abroad in the South of Spain without experiencing Semana Santa in Sevilla now could I?! Along with La Tomatina and the running of the bulls in Pamplona, this is one of the classic Spanish festivals that British people (at least in my experience) have actually heard of.

Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is celebrated in the week running up to Easter every year in Sevilla (and elsewhere in Spain too). Large processions of nazarenos (the people wearing capirotes – the pointy hats with the holes for the eyes) pass through the streets barefoot or in sandals in silence, following the Guiding Cross. The nazarenos where a different coloured hood and robe depending on which Brotherhood they belong to and where they are in the procession, and they also carry large wax candles which they light a night. The processions I saw ranged from a few hundred to around 2000 nazarenos.

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A day trip to Córdoba

Guess whose family have come out to Spain to visit her twice on her year abroad?! This gal!

After arriving back from Madrid mid-Monday afternoon fairly exhausted I had little time to rest because my mum, dad, and sister were coming to see me on the Tuesday and staying until the following Monday. Unfortunately, because this was still a normal working week, I had to go to school as always and only went in to the city to see them once during the week. But this post isn’t about their whole week here, rather the day trip we all took to Córdoba on the Saturday. Now, I’d already been to Córdoba back in the mists of time October, but when I’d been before it absolutely chucked it down, so I definitely didn’t get to see the best side of the city. However, now I’ve been back again, I can say without a doubt that I prefer it to Sevilla (oops). I can’t put my finger on why exactly, but it’s certainly a lot smaller than the capital of Andalucía and, for me at least, has more charm.

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GUHH take Madrid

After months of very hard training (ha!), two weeks ago it was finally time for me to go to Madrid with the Hares and Hounds to run the half marathon on Sunday the 2nd of April. I caught the bus to Sevilla after work on the Friday and then the high speed train up to the capital to meet them all (still maintaining my stance that public transport in Spain is fantastic and high speed rail is a great thing). I cannot even begin to put into words how comforting it was to see everyone again after not having seen them for ages! For those who know me in person I know I probably come across as quite cold at first because it takes a while to get to know me, but I swear I’m a warm hearted and loving kinda gal and even though you’d never catch me admitting this to any of their faces, it was soooooo lovely to spend time with my friends that weekend because they’re great and I love them.

Okay, mushy part over, let’s get to the actual weekend, shall we?

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Things to do // Plaza de España and Parque de María Luisa, Sevilla

After visiting Plaza de España within a few days of arriving in Sevilla back in September in order to get my documentation sorted, I hadn’t really made the point of going back to see it again until my friend Louise came to visit a few weeks back. And before she came to visit I’d never actually been into Parque de María Luisa either!

At 3pm, we probably picked a silly time of the day to visit a massive open air plaza with little shade, but we both had on sun cream and also brought plenty of water with us, so we ended up being fine and neither one of us got burnt. Having said that, over the summer when it can get up to 45/50 degrees here, there’s no way I’d visit anything during the heat of the day. Locals say it’s only sensible to be out in the streets before 2pm and after 7/8pm because otherwise it’s faaaaaaar too hot. Unless you’re used to those kinds of temperatures, then, by all means, go ahead and do all the touristy stuff during the afternoon when it’s hottest.Read More »

Things to do // Real Alcázar, Sevilla

In my previous post I mentioned that my friend Louise came to visit for the weekend; and the first thing on our agenda for that visit was a trip to the Real Alcázar. Having previously visited the palaces and gardens back in October, I knew they’d be fairly busy (especially as its now tourist season in Sevilla), so I’d booked our tickets online the week before and saved us a wait in a MASSIVE queue on the Saturday morning. Seriously, it cut our waiting time down to about ten minutes compared to the at least an hour the other queue had to wait for. If you’re planning on visiting during your time in Sevilla, I cannot recommend highly enough pre-booking your tickets (or showing up stupidly early in the morning before the queue builds up).

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Tourist in my own city: a weekend in Sevilla

I can’t believe how quickly this semester is going past…it honestly seems like just last weekend I was in Granada, but now my second visitor of the semester has been and gone! My friend Louise came to visit this past weekend and because this was her first time ever in Spain we decided to book an airbnb in the centre of Sevilla and experience a weekend a true Sevillanas!

Although I go to Sevilla for writing group every so often and vaguely know my way about most of the city, because I don’t actually live in the city there are a lot of ‘must do/see’ things that I hadn’t done prior to this past weekend (expect blog posts on some of them over the coming weeks/months/whenever I pull the finger out and actually get around to writing them…). There were a few things I really thought Louise should experience in order to say she’d properly seen Sevilla – the Real Alcázar, the Cathedral, and Plaza de España – so those were first on the list for the weekend. I mean, obviously, we did more than just those three, but they were definitely my priorities.

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